Salt is an essential ingredient that provides flavor, enhances syneresis, and contributes to the preservation of most cheeses. Even the simple step of salting, however, represents an important variable during cheese manufacture. Salt can be applied directly (i.e., in dry form) to the milled curds, as in the case of Cheddar, or salt can be rubbed onto the surface of hooped cheese, as in the case of some blue cheese varieties (e.g., Gorgonzola and Roquefort). Alternatively, some cheeses, such as Swiss, Mozzarella, and Parmesan, can be placed in brines. Obviously, when salting occurs via brining methods, the amount of salt that ends up in the cheese is a function of the diffusion rate into the cheese, as well as the geometry of the cheese block, the duration of brining, and brine strength. If the cheese is shaped or cut into small units and left in the brine, as with Feta cheese, salt concentrations can be very high (>3%). In contrast, large blocks or wheels of brined Swiss cheese typically contain less salt (<1%), especially in the interior sections. Brined cheeses that are then allowed to air dry develop natural rinds, due to surface dehydration.
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